Put the "Art" in Party

May 8, 2015
Summer Solstice

Hottest Party of the Year: Summer Solstice at The Cleveland Museum of Art

The percussive scratch of a Colombian guacharaca can be heard as visitors peek from behind a Monet. Heads bop to African EDM while precariously balancing glasses of crisp whites and checking out Rodin's statue, "The Thinker." The city's movers and shakers are doing just that - moving and shaking.

No, this isn't a swanky nouveau art opening in NYC or a posh, celeb-laden birthday party for some famous artist. This, my friend, is the Summer Solstice at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

This is the seventh year of the summertime soiree - drawing as many as 5,000 people - celebrating one of Cleveland's most prestigious institutions.  And, it's happening on June 20 on the back lawn of the Cleveland Museum of Art from 8pm - 1am.

"I consider this to be the full and proper kick-off to the summer," Tom Welsh, Director of Performing Arts for the Cleveland Museum of Art, said.

Presenting two outdoor stages of progressive artists from around the world, the party also features the opportunity to view the museum's internationally renowned galleries - boasting everything from Picasso to Warhol - until the wee hours of hours of the night.

"The thing about Solstice that is unique for Cleveland and at the Cleveland Museum of Art is that it has a very cosmopolitan and forward-looking attitude. We've always presented a pretty exciting mix of electronic music, global music and the music of right now," Welsh said.

According to the museum: "From the Colombian tropical-psychedelia of Meridian Brothers to the state-of-the art modern disco of Escort; from the legendary pioneers of Afrobeat, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, to the consistently creative DJ King Britt; from Peruvian electro- tropicalia of Dengue Dengue Dengue! to electronic music innovator Afrikan Sciences; Solstice is the city's premier summer kick-off event." View the music schedule here.

And, of course, what fete would be complete without refreshments? Chef Douglas Katz, on-site chef for the museum and it's 76-seat fine-dining establishment Provenance, will prepare the celebration's offerings - all available for purchase throughout the night.

There are two ticketing options available for the summertime fete. Merrymakers can opt for an 8pm ticket starting at $65 so that they can enjoy the entire evening. Or, go for the 10:30pm ticket, which runs for $30.

"Solstice has a really intense multi-generational energy," said Welsh. "Everyone

comes - from people who know the museum extremely well and those who have never been before."

Thinking this is just another cultural institution's annual fundraiser? Not so.

"Summer Solstice has never been a fundraiser. It's always been about the celebration of the life of the museum and the life of the city of Cleveland," said Welsh.

The idea behind this progressive party came to be in 2009 when the Cleveland Museum of Art was knee-deep in a multi-million-dollar expansion and renovation. The museum wanted to highlight the arrival of its new East Wing Galleries.

The timing was June, so the museum's leadership naturally came to the idea of celebrating summer's solstice.

"The opportunity was there to create a really special night that reintroduced and redefined the museum and the city itself. What was intended to be a one-night celebration became such a huge success! It's hard to believe we're already on our seventh year," Welsh said.

Seven years later also means the museum has completed its huge renovation and expansion, which has transformed the internationally recognized and historic art institution into one the most chic and tech forward.

Summer Solstice highlights all that and more.

"If you want a snapshot of Cleveland, you couldn't do any better than Summer Solstice at the Cleveland Museum of Art."

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